Essentially, this week can be defined as a Star Trek celebration. Before opening the Skydance/Bad Robot threequel Star Trek Beyond, Paramount has a couple of fan activities planned that it hopes will escalate the opening weekend for the Justin Lin movie from its current low-$50 million projection up to $60M.
Star Trek Beyond will play in 3,800 locations including 391 Imax sites, and it will take off in 37 foreign markets repping close to 50% of its overseas presence, with major ports being the UK, Australia, Russia and Germany.
The pinnacle event for Star Trek Beyond is its world premiere at San Diego Comic-Con tomorrow night at the Embarcadero Marina Park South, where the hashtag #StarTrekPremiere will potentially spike and drive word of mouth into theaters this weekend. Paramount has already shown the film to critics, and the good news is that Star Trek Beyond is in a better position than 20th Century Fox’s X-Men: Apocalypse before it opened. That Bryan Singer title failed to titillate fans heading into its Memorial Day weekend, contributing to the slowdown in opening-weekend projections for a $65.8M three-day gross. Star Trek Beyond on the other hand already has a 91% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes from 35 reviews.
For those Trekkies who can’t share in the Star Trek Beyond world premiere, Paramount is holding a nationwide Star Trek marathon event tomorrow in select cities. The one-night-only event will feature special screenings of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness as well as Lin’s Star Trek Beyond in Imax or PLF — all for the price of a single admission. Each Star Trek Marathon ticketholder will receive an exclusive Star Trek full-size collector’s poster designed by a Gallery 1988 artist and a StarFleet T-shirt iron-on patch.
Star Trek Beyond cost a reported $185M, but to Skydance and Bad Robot’s credit they’ve raised the franchise’s worth at the overseas box office and in China. The international B.O. on Star Trek jumped from $127.7M in 2009 to $238.6M in 2013, with China also jumping from $9M to $57M over the same stretch. While Trekkies stateside are typically precious about the content in a Star Trek film, foreign audiences in burgeoning markets like Russia, South Korea, China and Latin America are more open-minded.
Star Trek Beyond will file as the third-highest opening for a Star Trek movie in the U.S., after 2009’s Star Trek ($79.2M) and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness ($70.1M).
Illumination/Uni’s titan toon The Secret Life Of Pets will likely fall 50% in its third weekend to about $25M. Through yesterday, the movie co-helmed by Yarrow Cheney and Chris Renaud counts $210.3M. The 20th Century Fox/Blue Sky fifthquel Ice Age: Collision Course will enter the crowded family market, but as we’ve seen with Finding Dory (current B.O. $447.5M) and Pets, all of these cartoons can get along and cash in when they’re competing in the same multiplex. Fox would like to see a $30M opening, while rivals believe Ice Age: Collision Course can get as high as $35M. The pic skews younger than Finding Dory and Pets. Despite any kind of depreciation in opening weekends here for Ice Age, these films perform like gangbusters at the international box office. The last two movies — 2012’s Ice: Age Continental Drift and 2009’s Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs — each cleared more than 78% of their worldwide B.O. abroad with foreign takes north of $875M.
Also vying for families after seeing a better-than-expected Saturday decline of 5% from its opening day (everyone was expecting -10%) is Sony/Village Roadshow’s Ghostbusters. Many are thinking it will peg a 50%-55% decline ($20.7M-$23M), which is steeper than director Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy’s previous collaboration Spy (though for a second weekend, Ghostbusters will be higher than Spy which drew $15.6M). In their second outings, The Heat made $24.8M and Bridesmaids grossed $20.9M.
Finally, the last wide entry of the weekend is New Line/Warner Bros’ horror title Lights Out, which is also sneaking at Comic-Con over the weekend. The film hits theaters with the James Wan production stamp and many are expecting this $5M pic to perform in the $13M-$15M range. That’s great, but the question is whether Wan’s name pushes this original title higher — not to mention, it’s been a great summer for horror films between Wan’s The Conjuring 2 making $101.2M and Uni/Blumhouse/Platinum Dunes’ The Purge: Election Year rallying the series’ best domestic gross with $72M. Lawrence Grey of Grey Matter discovered the short that inspired Lights Out and brought it to Wan to produce alongside him. Grey also brought aboard director David Sandberg, who made the short, to helm the film as his feature debut.
Quality Flix and D’souza Entertainment are expanding their documentary Hillary’s America: The Secret History Of The Democratic Party which posted a hearty near $25K theater average at three venues (Dallas, Houston and Phoenix) last weekend. Pic heads toward 1,200 locations. D’Souza’s 100-minute film takes aim at the Democratic presidential nominee. Last Sunday, D’Souza held a red-carpet premiere in Cleveland, where the Republican National Convention is underway.
Also, Fox Searchlight has the Absolutely Fabulous movie in U.S. and Canada at 310-315 theaters. Pic will play in most major markets and cities. It already debuted in the UK on July 1 and has racked up $18M to date.